Chew on This

Study: Vinegar may help manage glucose, insulin levels for diabetics

Where to begin? After absorbing three days of exciting science-based nutrition presentations at the Nutrition and Health Conference organized by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, I am bursting to share. The magic, the healing and the health is in food.

Let’s start with a significant and growing problem, insulin resistance, and a product that is in everyone’s pantry, vinegar. Insulin resistance is when the body is producing enough insulin but the cells are not using it effectively. This leads to high blood glucose and insulin levels and is often an early marker of diabetes.

Dr. Carol Johnston started on the road of vinegar research when she saw it so prominently in folk medicine but so rarely in modern traditional medicine journals. One of her studies tested the blood glucose levels of diabetics and people with insulin resistance after they ate a high carbohydrate meal. There is evidence that high blood glucose levels after a meal, even in non-diabetics, may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, the build-up of fats and cholesterol in your artery walls.

Diabetics and insulin-resistant subjects were given two tablespoons of vinegar sweetened with a non-calorie sweetener before a high carbohydrate snack. The vinegar reduced the glucose surge in diabetics by 25 percent and in insulin-resistant individuals by 50 percent.

Another surprise — it worked as well as common diabetic medications. Vinegar does not taste great but there are no side effects. And the additional bonus is that the resulting undigested starch from the vinegar is good food for the microbiota in our gut. It also does not matter what type of vinegar is used. She said vinegar in a salad would work if the amount is about two tablespoons.

This is not a recommendation for people with insulin resistance, or for that matter anyone, to eat meals loaded with simple carbohydrates. It is a suggestion that when this does happen, a vinegar cocktail could be considered.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.